Orem has a lot of lows — crime rates, commute times, unemployment rate — added to Utah’s lows — housing costs, crime rates, childcare costs — to put it over the top as the No. 1 city in the country for working parents.
“Well, since the beginning we’ve been Family City USA, so there’s just a real focus on making Orem a place for families,” said Peter Wolfley, an Orem spokesman.
SmartAsset, a financial technology company, evaluated data from 446 major U.S. cities, including unemployment rates for the county, median household income, median housing costs, percentage of workers who work more than 49 weeks annually, average high school graduation rate, average travel time to work, violent crime rates, average cost of child care and the state policy rating from the National Partnership for Women & Families. And though Utah comes up short (like zero) on family leave and workspace accommodations for pregnant women — something changed during the 2016 legislative session with Senate Bill 59 — it still had the No. 1, 9 (Provo), 14 (St. George) and 16 (Layton) spots on the list.
According to SmartAsset, Orem “combines a relatively high quality of life for families with strong employment conditions for workers. It has the fourth-lowest crime rate of any city in SmartAsset’s analysis. Likewise, the average travel time to work of 17 minutes rates as the 33rd lowest. That leaves working parents with more time every day to spend with their kids.” Plus, with a 2.7 percent unemployment rate, “workers don’t have to stress about losing their job and can enjoy the time they spend with their kids.”
Wolfley said Orem is committed to keeping the city a great place for working parents. It recently finished its State Street master plan in an effort to make the road and surrounding streets better for travel, so people can “spend less time traveling to work and more time with their families.”
Along one of the safest places in the nation, its police department focuses on community policing, to involve residents in keeping the city a safe place, he said. And it’s building new playgrounds and renovating older ones, to give families a place to play together.
SmartAsset’s rankings didn’t specify what put Orem over the top of Provo. It listed Provo’s unemployment rate, which is the same as Orem’s, the city’s tech sector and housing affordability as factors in it’s ninth-place ranking. Wolfley didn’t have any ideas about the ranking difference — 1 vs. 9 — because essentially it’s the same area. He speculated it could be because Provo is more of a college town, with Brigham Young University.
“We’re excited about our ranking and our goal is to continue to make Orem a great place for parents and families,” Wolfley said.